The 2016 Florida Legislative session came to an end on March 11, 2016 with lawmakers, almost unanimously, passing a $82.3 million budget. The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce (GSCC) adopted 2016 Legislative priorities, many of which were successful this year.
The GSCC has long supported an exemption from sales tax for manufacturing equipment, which would benefit manufacturers in the growth and expansion of their businesses. The 2016 Legislature approved a permanent exemption for manufacturing equipment. This estimated $68 million in recurring savings that will allow those businesses to reinvest in local jobs and businesses which will work to grow and diversify our economic base.
Unfortunately, one of our key priorities, what has become known as the “business rent tax”, was not approved by the Florida Legislature. Currently, Florida businesses pay a 6% tax on their commercial leases. This additional cost creates a double taxation on these businesses and a reduction in this amount could allow business owners to reinvest in their business (e.g. hire new employees or expand). The legislation proposed a gradual reduction in this tax. Just a 1% reduction from the statutory 6% would have resulted in Florida businesses keeping $287m per year to reinvest in their business. This will be a priority issue of ours for next year.
On the funding side of things, many of our legislative priorities that pertained to state funding were successful. These include:
- Mote Marine Laboratory’s $250,000 appropriation request for research infrastructure expansion.
- State College of Florida $8.9m appropriation request for the Library and Learning Center.
- Nathan Benderson’s Park $2.5m appropriation for capital improvements.
A big thank you to all of our members who helped during this session to create our priorities agenda, kept us informed and advocated for our legislative priorities. We also extend our appreciation to our legislative delegation who represent our area and our interests in Tallahassee. Please visit our Public Policy page for our updated priorities, links to the Florida and US Chamber priorities and for information on how to contact your representatives.
If you are interested in assisting with legislative priorities, please contact Amy Farrington at email@example.com. We will begin working on the 2017 Legislative Priorities through our Government Issues Council soon. The 2017 Legislative session convenes on March 7 with committee meetings ramping up in September.